20 April 2008

History of Brunei Warrior Arts

Historical findings suggest that the Brunei kingdom began more than 1,500 years ago, pre-dating Islam. Founded by Pateh (or Patih) Berbai and a group of 90 warriors from the Sakai Tribe.

It existed side by side during the reign of the Srivijaya Empire of Sumatra in the 9th centrury, the Madjapahit Empire in Java in the 13th century and Parameswara in Malacca in the 15th century. Its earliest existence was believed to be a tributary province of the Srivijayan then the Majapahit Empire.

The word 'Borneo' has only recently been used as pronounced by Europeans based on the statement by John H. Moor in 1871.

In another writing in 1812 by J.Hunt, he says "Borneo was the name only of a city, the capital of the three distinct kingdoms in the island,... The natives pronounce Borneo as Bruni and say its derived from the word "Brani" (Bruneian dialect for "Berani" in Bahasa Melayu) meaning courageous..."

The early kings of Brunei were called "Sang Aji", or "Reverend Monarch", a title of Sanskrit origin. The Brunei ruling dynasty changed in 1371 when Awang Alak Betatar, a heroic warrior King from a powerful kingdom in western Borneo, married a princess from a neighbouring kingdom and ascended the Brunei throne after gaining freedom from the Madjapahit Empire, took charge of their own territorial responsibility . He became the first Brunei ruler and the present ruler is his descendant.
Awang Alak Betatar was the first Brunei Raja to accept Islam, changing his title and name to Sultan Muhammad Shah (1371-1402) in honour of the Prophet Muhammad.
Brunei’s sovereignty peaked in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it controlled the whole of Borneo and parts of the Philippines. The kingdom’s vast wealth, derived from international commerce, created a strong impression on early European explorers. They returned to Europe with stories of gold, regalia and majestic ceremonies.
As the first Islamic kingdom in the area Brunei was the base for the Islamisation of the southern Philippines and surrounding areas, frequently coming into conflict with Catholic Spain after the Spanish conquest of Luzon, the central island of the Philippines.
In 1578 in the conflict known as the Castille War (Perang Kastila) Spain attacked part of the Brunei Kingdom but was defeated by 100 fierce warriors, together with other locals who were loyal to the Sultan, lead by warriors of royal blood, Pengiran Bendahara Sakam with Orang Kaya Harimau Padang. Spain continued to try to conquer the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippine islands, finally succeeding in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Bruneian martial arts culture was used effectively within the major history of Brunei, seen perfectly preserved to present day in the Royal Regalia of Brunei's ancient rulers even before the 7th century, to the Castille War (Perang kastila) where the Spanish was defeated in 1578, to the World War against the Japanese.

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